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The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is an agency of the Department of Commerce, as well as a part of the Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration. BEA is responsible for collecting data, conducting research and analysis, and communicating its statistics to the public. The Census Bureau collects much of the raw data which the Bureau of Economic Analysis then interprets. The statistics produced by the BEA are used by government, business, and the public to track the nation's economic performance. The figures that the BEA is most known for are the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the US economy's position in the world, balance of accounts and balance of payments. Many government agencies, businesses and individuals make decisions based on the figures the BEA publishes; these figures often set the tone for the state of the economy These published figures are considered one of the three most influential measures affecting US financial markets. 

The Office of Business Economics was established in 1951 as a primary organization unit of the Department of Commerce. In 1972 the Office of Business Economics was renamed the Bureau of Economic Analysis because of a reorganization of the Department's principal statistical agencies.


What it Does  

The stated mission of the BEA is to promote a better understanding of the U.S. economy by providing the timeliest, relevant, and accurate economic accounts data in an objective and cost-effective manner. The published statistics created by BEA are consulted for economic predictions that are used in important decisions by the government and public. The figures that are gathered and calculated by the BEA include national income and product accounts (NIPAs), including the GDP.

Tables of Note:
According to the official BEA website, there are four major programs in which the agency operates.

National Accounts: BEA’s national economic statistics provide a comprehensive view of U.S. production, consumption, investment, exports and imports, and income and saving. These statistics include, gross domestic product (GDP), corporate profits, personal income and spending, and personal savings.

Regional Account: The regional economic accounts describe the geographic distribution of U.S. economic activity and growth. The estimates of GDP by state and state and local area personal income, and the accompanying detail, provide a consistent framework for analyzing and comparing individual state and local area economies.

Industry Accounts: The BEA prepares and publishes a variety of Economic statistics on U.S. industries. Specifically, it prepares the annual industry accounts, the benchmark input output accounts, and the travel and tourism satellite accounts for the United States.

International Accounts

: The BEA prepares and publishes estimates of transactions between U.S. and foreign residents and of the value of accumulated stocks of U.S.-owned assets abroad and of foreign owned assets in the United States. These estimates are presented in the international transactions accounts and the international investment position accounts and are used to determine U.S. surplus or deficits.


Where Does the Money Go  

The White House and Congress use the GDP and National Accounts to prepare budget estimates and projections. The Federal Reserve uses these same two tools to set monetary policy. Wall Street uses them to provide primary indicators of national economic activity. The Business community uses them as well, to plan financial and investment strategies. Other stakeholders include industry and academia, U.S. International Trade Commission, analysts and policymakers, business managers and so on. The Federal Government distributes more than $215 billion in federal funds based on the information it receives from the regional estimates of GDP by the BEA.

Contractors 2000-2003



Financial strains in gathering up-to-date information More moneyin the bureau’s budget would allow the bureau to collect more up-to-date data to improve the accuracy of such figures as the gross domestic product and to speed up their release. With more funding the agency could begin a quarterly survey of international transactions in services, such as the large and growing worldwide insurance market, to pick up changes in trade patterns more quickly. As of now budget constraints cause there to be increased time lapses between the publishing of important information. 

Because the U.S. economy is continuously changing, previous ways of calculating the GDP simply do not capture the structural changes taking place. This means that GDP estimates can be off, this in turn can cause false speculation of the future of the economy. Without accurate measures of this data, the wrong monetary policies can be implemented, negatively affecting the nation’s economy as a whole.


Suggested Reforms  
Congressional Oversight  
Former Directors  


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Founded: 1951, 1972
Annual Budget: $81.4 million (2008)
Employees: 430

Bureau of Economic Analysis
Landefeld, J. Steven
 J Steven Landefeld received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland. He served as Chief of Staff for the President's Council of Economic Advisers. He also served in a number of other capacities at BEA, including Deputy Director and the Associate Director for International Economics. Landefeld became director of BEA in 1995. He co-authored the books, A New Architecture for the U.S. National Accounts (2006), and Biomedical Research: Costs and Benefits (1979).